The Mobile City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to table indefinitely a revision to an ordinance that gave members more control over contracts, legal settlements and purchase orders.
The revision, sponsored by Mayor Sandy Stimpson, would’ve placed a minimum threshold on many of the requirements put forth in the original law, which was approved over Stimpson’s veto.
The revision would’ve placed a minimum threshold of $50,000 on public works bids required to come before the council and $15,000 on bids for goods and services. On settlements, the revised ordinance would’ve carried a $50,000 threshold.
The ordinance in question has been the source of some consternation between the mayor and council as both sides are still in mediation over a lawsuit filed by Stimpson pertaining to which branch of municipal government can unilaterally enter into contracts. Depending on which side one speaks to this ordinance is viewed as a way to add more transparency to the governmental process or as a political “power grab.”
The revision is not dissimilar to the way Councilman John Williams has proposed handling purchase orders going forward. Williams again on Tuesday proposed to his colleagues treating purchase order of less than $50,000, or those commonly recurring, like with gasoline, as a consent agenda item and approving them on first read.
Currently, about eight law enforcement task force agreements are being held up because of the ordinance, according to city attorney Ricardo Woods. The agreements include confidential information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Secret Service, which can’t allow them to be put on a public agenda, he said.
Council Vice President Levon Manzie said the council was amenable to finding a way around that obstacle.
In other business, administration officials confirmed during a pre-conference meeting Tuesday that Stimpson has still not signed the city’s budget, which was approved by the council months ago.
Woods told councilors there are currently errors in the budget of about $3,300 that need by reconciled before the document can be certified. Stimpson does not need to sign it for it to be certified and placed on the city’s website, he added. It is unclear if Stimpson will sign the budget.
Executive Director of Finance Paul Wesch confirmed the city is moving forward on most of the performance contracts the council approved, with the exception of the $750,000 set aside for Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
It appears that the ongoing issue of the stadium’s contract with the city will be one of a number of issues discussed at an upcoming meeting of the council’s finance committee. Also included in the discussion will be the placement of a minimum threshold on city contracts to trigger required participation from disadvantaged business enterprises. The current threshold is $250,000.
A date and time for that finance committee meeting has not yet been set.